Industry Responds to Las Vegas’ Fire Alarm Policy

LAS VEGAS—A verified response policy for fire alarms that the Las Vegas Department of Fire and Rescue put into effect on Feb. 1 has gained a response from the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Assocation (NBFAA). The association recently met with city officials to offer its help on analyzing the false alarm problem to potentially rectify the modification of the existing law.

Under the policy, someone must first verify that an actual fire is in progress before fire and rescue crews respond. If the call turns out to be false, fire officials may issue the business owner a citation.

“Overall, the meeting was instructive on their [the city’s] end. We came in with an action plan and they said they’re willing to work with us,” says David Johnson, NBFAA’s director of government relations. NBFAA President Bart Didden and other association members met with Las Vegas Fire Chief David Washington and the city attorney.

“The meeting was about the city explaining why they got to this result. Although we don’t agree with the result, we do understand that their problems are real and that they had to come up with something,” Didden says.

Didden says no immediate action was taken. He says the next step is to provide the fire department with a list of questions to better understand the basis of the modified policy. In return, the department will provide the association its statistical data on the false alarm rate to analyze and determine the origins of the problems and to try to find a solution other than verified response.

“If we can make a drastic reduction in alarms, the city said they would look at the modification again and they would make an honest effort to review the policy,” Didden says. “At this point, however, they did not say they would change the modification.”

The association, along with the Nevada Association of Security Professionals (NASP), the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) and many other industry professionals, strongly oppose the verified response policy for all systems. There is already a list of cities paying close attention to this policy, and many are seriously considering replacing their false alarm fine ordincances with no response.

“The verified response policy sets a dangerous presedent,” Didden says. “There are solutions and alternatives out there to curb false alarms. Our industry has got to make sure that cities are aware of them. The transformation of no response for fire alarm systems really takes the problem to a new level when you talk about life safety.”

Tim Szymanski, spokesperson for Chief Washington, says, “We are just enforcing laws that have been on the books because of the increase of false alarms. Most false alarms are residential and light commercial.”

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